Monday, October 31, 2011

Warrant issued for Arafat’s widow

TUNIS: Tunisia has issued a warrant summoning the widow of deceased Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat over a corruption scandal, the state news agency reported on Monday.

The warrant was issued last week over Suha Arafat’s role in a scandal involving former Tunisian dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, his family and other high government officials, said Kadhem Zine El Abidine, spokesman for the Justice Ministry.

He did not provide any details, but an online journal Attounissia said she was being investigated over The International School of Carthage, which she founded in 2006 with Ben Ali’s wife, Leila Trabelsi.

Relations between the two deteriorated over the next year until Suha Arafat was declared persona non grata and she left for Malta, where her brother Gaby Al Tawil was the Palestinian ambassador.

A Palestinian official in Tunis said she was still living in Malta, on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject.

The warrant is not for arrest, but only a summoning for questioning, either as a suspect or witness to the case.

However, Suha on Monday rejected charges of corruption levelled against her in Tunisia.

“I reject all the accusations listed in the media; I am ready to deal with this issue, to submit documents, and I have entrusted a Tunisian lawyer to present these documents,” she told reporters in a telephone interview from Malta.

Suha also said that she was unaware of an international arrest warrant issued against her. “I officially declare that I am not aware of an arrest warrant issued against me and no international organisation has informed me,” she said.